All levels of government, along with the private sector, invest in transportation infrastructure. The resulting infrastructure assets play a key role in U.S. productive capacity, and also contribute to income and wealth generation. At the same time, infrastructure must be maintained to ensure adequate service. Despite its obvious importance, economic data on transportation infrastructure are inadequate.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation is developing a Transportation Infrastructure Capital Stock Account (TICSA) to overcome some of these data limitations. TICSA will provide comprehensive information on infrastructure investment, capital stock value, service value, asset retirement, and asset depreciation.
TICSA will include capital assets for highways and streets, airports and airways, ports and waterways, transit facilities, railroads, and pipelines. With such broad coverage, TICSA data will allow analysts to address such questions as:
1. What is the monetary value of transportation infrastructure used to support transportation operations in the U.S. economy?
2. What proportion of national income is invested in transportation infrastructure?
3. How much would need to be spent to maintain the current capacity of the transportation network or to increase its capacity to a certain level?
4. What is the rate of return of public investment in transportation infrastructure?
5. What is the relationship between transportation infrastructure investment and the growth in productivity in transportation industries?